Page 136 - UCT2012 Health Sciences

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Centre for Occupational
and Environmental Health
Research (COEHR)
The Centre’s aim is to be a principal centre of OEH
research, teaching and training, occupational medical
clinical services, policy advisory, technical consultancy
services, advocacy and a source of supportive outreach
activities in South Africa, in the Southern and Eastern
regions of Africa, Africa more generally, and internationally.
The major objectives of the Centre are firstly, to conduct
multidisciplinary research, teaching and service provision
of high priority in Southern Africa. Integrating laboratory,
clinical, epidemiological and policy skills. Another key
objective is to explore and develop means of maintaining
the health of workers and environmentally exposed
communities. A third objective is to conduct policy research
into issues ranging from toxic or injurious exposures through
to health surveillance. Fostering inter-institutional research,
teaching and service (including outreach) collaboration and
capacity development constitutes another major objective.
Finally, another aim is to foster local and global networks
for occupational and environmental health promotion
through collaboration with United Nations and other
Key research projects
Key research areas for the Centre currently include the
identification of risk factors and evaluating preventive
approaches for allergens and asthma in the workplace,
health hazards of chemicals (such as pesticides and
endocrine disruptors) and silicosis elimination in gold
miners. Workforces that are of particular relevance for the
Centre’s work include health care workers, with a specific
focus on studying the determinants of TB infection and
diagnostic approaches in order to prevent the spread
of TB related to the HIV epidemic. Other vulnerable
groups include agricultural workers (for whom injuries
and pesticide-related asthma and neurotoxicity are a
problem) and mine worker’s (at high risk of developing
pneumoconioses and TB). Environmental risks for workers
and communities exposed to metals, such as manganese
and arsenic, and other chemicals in the working and
residential environments are assessed and monitored.
Climate change and its impact on occupational and general
health has become a focus linked to the UCT African
Climate and Development Initiative. These areas are
supplemented by a broader focus on research to address
occupational and environmental health systems and
worker’s compensation, as well as developing programmes
to build OHS capacity through research and training in the
SADC region. Through the Fogarty International Centre
International Training and Research in Environmental and
Occupational Health (ITREOH) and the Millemium Promise
Programme (MPP) for non communicable chronic diseases.
Major highlights for 2012 included the
• Professor Aqiel Dalvie was appointed Director of
Centre for the period 2013-2015.
• Professor Mohamed Jeebhay was elected as a fellow
of the Collegium Ramazzini, an international academy
of 180 fellows whose mission is to advance the study of
occupational and environmental health issues. He was
honoured by the Allergy Society of South Africa (ALLSA)
on receiving the distinguished service award for his
efforts over a decade in promoting allergy research in
his capacity as head of the research portfolio on the
ALLSA executive for the period 2003-2012.
• Professor Leslie London was appointed to an Advisory
Committee for a Wellcome Trust-funded cluster
randomised controlled trial to determine whether
safe storage containers can reduce the incidence of
intentional and unintentional pesticide poisoning in
rural Sri Lanka, 2010-2015. He served as a member of
a Technical workgroup providing technical support to
the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health for
the report on Occupational Health as a Human Right.
He convened an Africa Workgroup for the International
Commission onOccupational Health (ICOH) contributing
to a revision of the ICOH Ethical Guideline. Professor
London’s NRF rating was upgraded to B3.
• Dr. Hanna-Andrea Rother represented the COEHR at
the third session of the International Conference on
Chemicals Management (ICCM3) in Nairobi, Kenya.
She was elected to UCT Senate by UCT’s academic staff
and appointed a member of the editorial board for the
Journal of Public Health and Health Policy. Dr Rother
was awarded the Green Campus Initiative Backsberg
Sustainability Award for her contribution to pesticide
policy and management on UCT campuses. Finally, she
was awarded a Visiting Scholars Fund Award to host
Professor Thomas Arcury and Professor Sara Quandt
from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, USA.
• Professor Rodney Ehrlich and Dr Jim te Water Naude
joined the newly formed South Africa-Yale University
Collaboration, a network of health science, social science
and legal researchers and practitioners. The Collaboration
is aimed at documenting the health burden among current